The Bodyguard is best known for a scene that doesn’t even belong to the movie. Bodyguard Kiba was originally released in 1973 but before it hit the US grindhouses it had not only been blessed with a typically poor english dub but also some extra flesh. Starting with the famous opening monologue, ”...and I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious anger, who poison and destroy my brothers, and they shall know that I am Chiba the Bodyguard when I shall lay my vengeance upon them...”, and cutting to actual movie with the legendary ”By the way, where is Sonny Chiba?” line after some 5 minutes of hilariously bad added fighting footage with Aaron Banks and Bill Louie, The Bodyguard is a hard movie to review. Quite honestly I don’t know where the influence of The Bodyguard ends and where Bodyguard Kiba begins, who is to blame for the movie’s flaws, and which movie I’m supposed to review here.
The original film (directed by Tatsuichi Takamori) was based on manga by Ikki Kajiwara (which was later adapted by Takashi Miike in the 90’s Bodyguard Kiba films). The movie features a healthy dose of manga esque ultraviolence with decent technical execution. The cinematography and music are hardly exceptional but feature some nice spaghetti western imagery. The ending especially is impressive. The storyline on the other hand is a mess. There were even moments when I though I was watching an added scene till familiar actors appeared on screen and proved me wrong. Out of all Chiba’s starring role movies I’ve seen this is maybe his weakest, at least in this form. That is still not to say the movie is bad... a fan like me enjoyed it enough to grad it a 3/5 rating, although just barely.
Etsuko Shihomi fans should be noted that despite the BCI cover art promises she does not appear in the movie. So, why would BCI print her name in the back cover with bolded letters? One possible explanation is that they were relying on IMDB which wrongly claims that she is in the movie. There is one ass kicking karate lady in the movie though, but that is the beautiful Yayoi Watanabe, not Etsuko Shihomi. The rest of the cast features the ever excellent Eiji Go as one of the villains, Hideo Murota as the airplane hijacker, Mari Atsumi in the female lead and most notably Ryohei Uchida as the sneaky business man. Pinky violence fans will also recognize some familiar gaijins as the American G.I.’s. More notably Chiba’s real life master, Masutatsu Oyama, appears in a brief cameo during the opening credits.
Reviewed by Hung Fist - 9/17/07